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Southwest Center for Occupational and Environmental Health

Pilot Projects


NIOSH Pilot Projects Research Training Program

The goal of the Pilot Projects Research Training Program is to enhance Southwest Center for Occupational and Environmental Health (SWCOEH) regional outreach efforts in research training and to foster stronger inter-institutional ties in occupational health research within Public Health Region 6 (PHR 6) (Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas). The objective of this program is to provide a support mechanism for pilot research projects initiated by:

  • Junior faculty exploring the feasibility of new research approaches that may allow investigators to collect preliminary data to subsequently develop larger grant applications
  • Graduate research trainees that need partial or supplementary funding to complete or enhance short term studies (e.g., doctoral dissertation research); and/or
  • Faculty in areas other than occupational health research who wish to transition or expand their research interest to workers’ health issues (“new faculty investigators”).

Graduate students and other junior investigators in occupational health and safety as well as faculty in areas other than occupational health research investigators with new interests in occupational health and safety are invited to submit applications for short-term research projects. Support for these projects is available through a supplemental Research Training award from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) to the SWCOEH at UTHealth School of Public Health.

To learn more about the Pilot Projects Research Training Program, see a list of the current as well as the past grants awarded by fiscal year here. In addition, you can see a list of outcomes of the program (e.g., publications, presentations, funded projects) by fiscal year here.


2018-2019 Funding Opportunity Announcement

Award Information

Award Name: Southwest Center for Occupational and Environmental Health

Federal Award Identification Number: T42 OH008421

Award Year: July 1, 2018 - June 30, 2019

Federal Awarding Agencies: Department of Health and Human Services; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health

Sub-Award Flow-Through Requirements

Applicable Regulations: 45 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 75, Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles and Audit Requirements for HHS Awards

45 CFR Part 75 supersedes regulations at 45 CFR Part 74 and Part 92

Eligible Applicants

The Pilot Projects program aims to provide a support mechanism for research projects initiated by personnel at any institution located within Public Health Region 6(PHR 6) (Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas), including those with Training Program Grants. Funds are available for three categories of awards including:

  • Junior Investigator Awards: New investigators with research interests in the general area of occupational health and safety. Junior investigators are defined as faculty who have not served as PI on any Public Health Service (PHS)-supported research grants other than a R03, R15, R21, K01, K08, or K12.
  • Research Trainee Awards: Graduate doctoral students or postdoctoral fellows in an occupational health and safety-related discipline.
  • New Investigator Awards: Faculty in areas other than occupational health research who wish to apply their expertise to an occupational safety and health issue.
  • Previous Pilot Project Awardees are not eligible to reapply.

Availability/Use of Funds 

Approximately $50,000 is available in the upcoming fiscal year to fund short-term research projects. The maximum amount awarded to a single project will be $10,000 (inclusive of direct and indirect costs). Faculty trained in areas other than occupational health research who wish to apply their expertise to an occupational safety and health issue (“new faculty investigators”) may apply for projects with a budget up to $20,000. Only one application per applicant is allowed. Awards will be made on a one-time basis with an end date of June 30, 2019 without possibility of renewal. Previous Pilot Project Awardees are not eligible to reapply.

Funding is contingent upon NIOSH’s notice of award to the SWCOEH for the corresponding fiscal year.


Funding is designed to directly support the implementation of the research plan. Salary support for the investigator is discouraged and administrative staff support will not be allowed. Course costs (i.e., tuition and fees) are not an allowable expense. Additionally, the budgeting of computers into the proposals is not an allowable expense unless it is an essential need to conduct the research (e.g., a laptop to collect data during the field work; but not simply data entry).

All applicants are encouraged to request that their institutions waive indirect cost requirements. Should indirect cost requirements not be waived, the program will only support up to 8% of the direct costs. Proof of IDC Waiver application to the applicant organization must be submitted with the proposal packet. Whether IDC is waived or not by the applicant organization, a letter from the applicant organization stating such must also be submitted.

Programmatic Interest

Submitted projects must be relevant to the National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA) of NIOSH (see Submitted applications for the Junior Investigator and Research Trainee award categories should originate from areas within the traditional occupational health and safety-related disciplines including occupational medicine, occupational health nursing, industrial hygiene, occupational safety, ergonomics, toxicology and occupational epidemiology. Applications for the Junior Investigator award category should originate from investigators in areas other than those listed above. Projects not addressing NORA goals and objectives will be determined non-responsive, and will not be reviewed further.

Proposals for all should emphasize basic or applied research that brings especially innovative perspectives or paradigms, ideas, and/or approaches to occupational health research. All applications should address occupational health and safety needs in Region PHR 6, foster the research career of the Principal Investigator, and promote research capacity-building in the Region. In addition, the proposal should include a brief statement describing the investigator s plan for dissemination of project results in the peer-reviewed literature and future applications for extramural funding.

Application Instructions

NIOSH ERC Pilot Projects Research Training Application

Proposal Format Instructions and Guidelines for Submission

Please click here for a printable version of the Application Instructions and Guidelines.

Awardee Requirements:

Successful awardees will be required:

1. To complete a short progress report due every quarter to briefly document their progress toward the objectives of their awarded project. This brief report should present research activities to date, progress made toward project objectives, unexpected delays or events which might influence the achievement of project objectives, and plans to address any delays or unexpected events.

2. To give an oral presentation of their study results at a research symposium to be held in June 2019, at the UTHealth School of Public Health.

3. To submit a final report written in manuscript form and adhering to journal guidelines due at the completion of the project. A list and copies/reprints of any publications resulting from the project must be included in this final report.

4. To acknowledge the funding support in presentations and publications emanating from the pilot awards.

5. To complete a short annual survey requesting updates on program outcomes for a period of 5 years after the end of the funding period.  This information will be used to demonstrate the impact and value of the program as well as for program improvement.

Evaluation Criteria:

The mechanism for funding projects through this Program will be a competitive process modeled after the National Institutes of Health enhanced peer review system and modified to meet the purpose of this RFA. Upon receipt, applications will be evaluated by the SWCOEH for completeness and responsiveness. Incomplete and/or non-responsive applications will not be reviewed. If the proposed project involves organizations or persons other than those affiliated with the applicant institution, letters of support must be included.

Applications that are complete and responsive to the announcement will be reviewed by a Scientific Review Panel composed of internal and external peer reviewers and will be determined to be scientifically meritorious or non-meritorious based on review criteria described below. Non-meritorious applications will be withdrawn from further consideration and the principal investigator will be notified. Meritorious applications will be assigned a priority score based on scientific merit. Following this first-level review, the applications will undergo a Programmatic Review for relevance to the goals and objectives of this RFA. 

Criteria for the Scientific and Programmatic Review


Funding is contingent upon NIOSH’s notice of award to the SWCOEH for the corresponding fiscal year.

Budgets must be inclusive of direct and indirect costs and must include travel for a presentation of results at the UTHealth School of Public Health. Supplements will not be awarded.

Appropriate approvals must be obtained prior to the Scientific Review and awards for use of animals, human subjects, radioisotopes, biohazards or other special approvals.

Decisions of the review panel will be final.

Key Dates:

The receipt date for proposals is November 26, 2018. Please send the completed application by email to

Awards will be announced soon after review.  Funds cannot be disbursed to any awardee until all pertinent institutional review board (IRB) or institutional animal care and use committee (IACUC) approvals are received by the Pilot Projects Research Training Program Coordinator.

Funded Projects

2018 - 2019

Aurelie Azoug
Oklahoma State University
Mitigating Posture Changes and Risks of Falling in Standing Pregnant Workers

Brendon McDermott
University of Arkansas
The Effect of Sugar-Sweetened Electrolyte Beverages on Biomarkers of Hydration and Renal Stress During and Following Industrial Work in the Heat

William Brett Perkison
UTHealth School of Public Health
The Hurricane Harvey Outreach Protection Plan Worker and Resident Survey

2017 - 2018

Marcio Bezerra
University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center
Oxidative Gases Emission and Particulates’ Oxidative Potential from Non-conventional Welding 

Yu Feng
Oklahoma State University
A virtual human system for health risk assessments in a representative whole-lung configuration associated with welding fume exposure 

Erika Figueroa-Solis
UTHealth School of Public Health
Pilot testing of the DEGREE Study Protocol, POC Field Measurements, and Module on Risk Factors for CKDu in Hispanic Outdoor Workers 

Jennifer Reingle Gonzalez
UTHealth School of Public Health - Dallas
The Law Enforcement Officer Stress Surveillance Study (LEO-STRESS) Pilot 

Ashley Shortz
Texas A&M School of Public Health
Development of Fatigue Risk Assessment Method for High Risk Environments 

Wei-Chung Su
UTHealth School of Public Health
Ultrafine Particle Respiratory Deposition Measurement 

Ying Xu
UT Austin
Occupational Exposure to SVOCs from Indoor "Green"Paints

Contact Information

For Additional Information

David I. Douphrate, PhD, MPT, MBA, CPE, CSP
Associate Professor and Director
NIOSH Pilot Projects Research Training Program
UTHealth School of Public Health
San Antonio Campus
Phone: (210) 276-9005 / Fax: (210) 276-9028

Peggy Weinshilboum, MBA
Program Coordinator
NIOSH Pilot Projects Research Training Program
UTHealth School of Public Health 
Phone: (713) 500-9479 / Fax: (713) 500-9442
E-mail:  or